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In Act II, Scene 2, what is the result on the audience of Hamlet's speech to the...

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tokidoki | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 7, 2008 at 5:31 AM via web

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In Act II, Scene 2, what is the result on the audience of Hamlet's speech to the actors?  What is the most dominate emotion in Hamlet's soliloquy?

Can anyone help me?  I'm having a hard time understanding Hamlet.  Thanks.

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kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted April 14, 2008 at 3:32 AM (Answer #1)

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The reader, in this Act II, Scene 2, soliloquy is made aware of how Hamlet is in despair and feels extreme guilt about his own inaction to avenge his father's murder.  Hamlet observes that the actors are pretending to be someone else and are only playing parts.  They are not "being," but only SEEM to be doing so (and so we see a connection here to the "To be or not to be..." here).  They are playing a part and are not "true."  Enotes states that:

Hamlet alludes to this ironic duplicity when he notes the actor’s ability to “drown the stage with [real] tears / And cleave the general ear with horrid speech” (II. ii. 565-566) over an imagined murder, while he himself, “the son of a dear father murdered” (II. ii. 588), can only manage to curse his own inaction “like John-a-dreams” (II. ii. 572).

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